Two Central Coast Paths Are Included Among the State’s Initial Middle-Mile Infrastructure Network Buildout

As California moves forward with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to bring equitable high-speed broadband service to all Californians, plans for the initial infrastructure projects for the state’s open-access, middle-mile network are being finalized.  

The $3.25 billion infrastructure investment being made toward the design and construction of that middle-mile network is part of historic legislation signed by Newsom in June 2021 to bridge the digital divide, providing a total of $6 billion toward broadband investment.

The middle mile — the physical fiber-optic infrastructure needed to enable internet connectivity — plays a critical role in ensuring that internet service providers can reach unserved or underserved areas. Making this network open access with affordable fiber leasing rates is the key: It will allow providers to connect end-users cost-effectively and offer consumers more choices when it comes to their internet service. 

In November 2021, the initial 19 projects for that statewide middle-mile buildout were announced. Completion is scheduled by December 2026, with additional locations to be identified upon further assessment.

On the Central Coast, those projects include the expansion of the middle-mile network to provide missing infrastructure paths that will connect Southern Santa Clara Valley to Hollister and Santa Cruz to Los Gatos.

“Equity remains our highest purpose in expanding the open-access middle-mile network. These initial sites are only the beginning, and I look forward to the tangible improvements this work will deliver to residents of our state,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.

A map and additional information on the initial projects can be found here.

Two billion dollars of the Governor’s budget is devoted to last-mile infrastructure — the piece that actually brings connectivity to homes and businesses. Rulemaking and guidelines through the CPUC are in progress, and we expect to have more information this summer.